Recently in Oshkosh, the Washington Avenue Historic district was established to help preserve the many fine neoclassic buildings in the 200 block of that street. This is a good thing and I endorse any effort the preserve architectural treasures. I’m also aware that the neighborhood now protected was once an up sale residential district. In the nineteenth century, many doctors, lawyers and businessmen made their homes on Washington and adjacent street. One such denizen was James G. Clark a partner in the Biggers and Clark dry goods store. In an article from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern from December 14, 1877 which recapped the years building, there is mention made of Mr. Clark’s new dwelling on Washington, as planned by William Waters.
Where was it and what did it look like, were the questions in my mind. The Oshkosh city directory of 1880 lists Mr. Clark’s address as 71 Washington Street and the 1903 Sanborn map shows that number to be on the north side of the street and third from the corner of Mt. Vernon. As to its’ appearance, I consulted “Oshkosh Illustrated” from 1887 and the photograph looking north taken from the top of the court house. I notice a house in the upper left hand side the picture, about where number 71 would stand. The image wasn’t very clear but clear enough to trigger a recognition, I had seen something like it the collection of sketches put together by William Waters Jr. I leafed through the pages and found the drawing, a good match to the fuzzy image from 1887 and the date would have been spot on, I determined that the house in the photo and the house in the sketch were one and the same.
P. S. The house designated as 1 is the Clark residence, I’ve numbered several houses in the photograph as they will be the subject of future posts.